What should we do about those who receive the Eucharist without believing in it?


Full Question

If it is a sacrilege to receive Communion without believing, what are we to do about friends and relatives who receive as a ritual without regard for the true meaning of the Eucharist? What would be the best way to bring this up? Is it uncharitable to assume that they are sinning? There are so many communicants who don't go to confession, for example, that I wonder if they are somehow protected from the sin of sacrilege by ignorance.

Answer

It is objectively sinful to receive Communion without believing that one is really, truly, and substantially receiving Christ. However, those who are innocently ignorant of this fact will not be held accountable for it. Those who are culpably ignorant, on the other hand, are sinning in such a way that they are liable to judgment. They are committing either a venial or a mortal sin depending on the level of culpability for their disbelief.

It is uncharitable to assume that people are sinning. Paul tells us to reckon that others are better than ourselves (Phil 2:3). A good way to bring the subject up would be to talk with people about how much Christ's Presence in the Eucharist means to you and what a profound and wonderful teaching of the faith it is.


Catholic Answers Staff